Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

As some of you have noticed, the 2016 Stump Speeches series has stalled. The reason is simple: Next up was Hillary Clinton, and that article turned into a bigger project than any of the others.

Here’s why: For most candidates, what needs to get covered is “Who is this person?” and “What is he (or she) saying?” But for Clinton, the problem isn’t that we don’t know enough about her, it’s that we know too much and don’t know how to sort it out. The questions I keep hearing about Hillary amount to: “Who is she really?” and “Can I trust the things she’s saying? How much of it is her heart really in?”

Those are tougher questions, and required more work than just fact-checking a speech. I decided to attack them by reading all her books — well, I skipped the one about the White House pets — plus a couple of others that seemed relevant. I was hoping to find themes that stayed constant through the years. And more than that, I was hoping I could start hearing her author’s voice in my head. I realize that sounds more like channeling than journalistic analysis, but that’s what the questions seemed to require.

The project took some time, but I think it worked. You can judge for yourself later this morning. The article is unusually long, even for me, but it’s got five books and three speeches to cover. And it concerns the candidate who currently has the best chance to wind up as President of the United States. Who is she really?

I’ve still got a lot of editing to do, but I’m hoping to have that out by 9 EDT, or maybe 10. The weekly summary should follow a couple of hours later.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m back after my week on Star Island off the coast of New Hampshire. (Give yourself credit if you knew that New Hampshire had  a coast.)

There will be two featured posts this week. The first, “Trump is the New Palin”, makes a bold prediction: Donald Trump will leave the race for president before he has to spend more money than the publicity is worth. I’ll guess that to be sometime in December, when candidates need to buy ads on Boston TV stations to stay competitive in New Hampshire. I expect to post that article soon, probably before 8 EDT.

The second, “So What About Polygamy, Anyway?” picks up on an argument between Fredrik deBoer and Jonathan Rauch. All through the same-sex marriage debate, we kept hearing that we were on a slippery slope and legalized polygamy would be next. Well, is it? Should it be? Along the way I’ll take a look at some slippery-slope predictions of the past, including some that in retrospect look more like the march of progress than a slide to perdition. Expect that by 10.

The weekly summary has two weeks to cover, which includes the Iran deal, the Greek bailout, the Chattanooga shooting, and a bunch of other stuff. (Honestly, I didn’t believe the Iran deal was going to happen.) And I’ll close with a picture of a good prank.


The Monday Morning Teaser

What I paid the most attention to this week was the continuing backlash of social conservatives against marriage equality. One moment that stood out for me was when Ted Cruz was asked whether the “religious freedom” to resist same-sex marriage (which he was promoting) also could be used to resist interracial marriage. Outrageously, he replied that there is “no religious backing” for opposition to interracial marriage.

That sent me to the history books, including a fascinating recent one on how interracial marriage became legal, called Almighty God Created the Races by Fay Botham. The parallels in the arguments are quite striking, as Botham herself recognizes in the final chapter.

So why, I wondered, are the Ted Cruzs so resistant to claiming their social-conservative heritage? And why was Justice Alito so concerned that his fellow marriage-equality opponents might be called “bigots”? And I came to understand the reason: Our image of the bigots of the past is that the were all haters, like the mobs being held back by federal troops in Little Rock while they yelled obscenities at the little black children going to school. No wonder Ted Cruz and Sam Alito are offended to be lumped together with them.

But when you look back more thoroughly, you find that the vast majority of segregationists and male chauvinists and even slavery defenders were just like the marriage-equality opponents of today: not conscious of hating anyone, but sincerely believing — usually for reasons rooted in their religion — that certain people shouldn’t be treated fairly, and that everyone will be better off if they remain unequal. In other words, most of the bigots of the past were probably nice folks, if you met them under the right circumstances — a lot like Ted Cruz and Sam Alito.

The result of that history project will be this week’s featured post “You Don’t Have to Hate Anybody to be a Bigot”. It should be out around 9 or 10, EDT.

The weekly summary covers yesterday’s referendum in Greece, which launches me into a reflection on how the we’re-turning-into-Greece line the Tea Party was pushing a few years ago had the economics exactly backwards. There are still more Republican presidential candidates, and pundits are finding new reasons to ignore the huge crowds Bernie Sanders is drawing. Confederate flag defenders came out in force, but I don’t think they did their cause much good. I quote a first-person response to Georgia’s open-carry law, and a couple of great Bill Maher riffs. I’m still looking for a closing. So let’s predict that to appear around noon.

The Actual Monday Morning Teaser

Yesterday, readers got a little more insight into the Sift’s inner workings than I wanted to give them. You see, I want anybody who comes to the blog on a Monday morning to at least get a promise that articles are coming; that’s what the Teaser is for. So I like to get it posted as early as I can. I’m usually a morning person, so I roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, walk to the computer and post.

Well, yesterday I woke up later than usual, with one of those strange I-just-woke-up beliefs that it was Monday and I was running late. Forget the coffee, I had to get to the computer and get a Teaser up right now. It was posted before I saw enough of the world to realize it was Sunday.

I could have taken it down then, but one of my policies is that once commenters notice an error, I can fix it, but I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. (The comments often contain my acknowledgement of mistakes I’ve edited out of the text.) Deleting the post would delete the comments that corrected me. So the wrong-day Teaser stays up.

Anyway, I have it on good authority that it really is Monday today. So here’s what you can expect: Unlike what I would have done yesterday, I’m going to pull my Supreme Court analysis out of the summary and make it a separate article “Two and a Half Cheers for the Supreme Court”. It should go up around 8 or 8:30.

Then I’ll post an article on racial and gender slurs that I’ve been thinking about for a while, but waiting for a news hook: The conservative furor over President Obama saying “nigger” in an interview was the hook I was waiting for, so “Slurs: Who Can Say Them, When, and Why” should go up by 10. It begins with a scene I really love from Clerks 2, and concludes with a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, so I think it does a good job of mixing light and heavy.

Then the weekly summary will cover other people’s reactions to the Court decisions; the amazing crumbling of support not just for the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolina state capitol, but for Confederate symbols all over the country; Obama’s eulogy for the Charleston victims; why you should think twice before forwarding that anti-Hillary tweet; and a few other things before closing with a human/elephant musical jam. Maybe 11 or 11:30 for that.

It really is Monday, isn’t it?

The Monday Morning Teaser

Update: It’s actually Sunday and I’m not running behind at all. Thanks to the commenters for pointing this out before I actually started posting articles.

I’m moving slowly on a rainy morning. The featured post today will be “Slurs: Who Can Say Them, When, and Why”. The conservative freak-out over President Obama saying “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public” provides an occasion for me to collect some thoughts that should be obvious, but for some reason aren’t to some people. I’ll try to keep it amusing, with relevant clips from Clerks 2 and Life of Brian.

Since I’m getting a late start, it might be 10 before that appears.

There’s an amazing week to cover in the summary: two major Supreme Court decisions; Confederate symbols started coming down — not just in South Carolina, but all over; the TPP is back from the dead; and President Obama’s eulogy for the shooting victims in Charleston might go down as one of the great American speeches. Expect that around noon.

And I’ll close with something celebratory: a video of two actual, non-animated, boogying elephants.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Of course the event that overshadows everything else this week is the Charleston shooting. The events of the shooting are fairly straightforward and well known by now: We know who did it and how and why. He’s been caught.

There’s a deeper investigative report that needs to be done, but it’s a little beyond my powers: How many potentially violent white supremacists are out there? What’s the government doing to protect us from them? How do they recruit? What are the signs your teen-ager is being drawn in? And so forth. I suspect the Southern Poverty Law Center has such a report, but I haven’t searched it out yet. If you’ve seen something similar somewhere, leave a comment.

So this week I cover two intermediate-depth aspects of the shooting: (1) The amazing inability of conservative media and politicians to see and admit the obvious: that this was racially motivated terrorism. Many of them maintained (long after clear evidence to the contrary was available) that since this was a church shooting, it must be anti-Christian violence rather than racial violence. The rest just professed to have no idea why it happened. (2) The controversy that erupted after the shooting about the Confederate flag, which still flies in front of the South Carolina capitol.

The featured post “Please Take Down Your Confederate Flag” is my reaction to seeing a pick-up truck Friday — about 36 hours after the shooting — going down Main Street in my New England town, trailing a full-size Confederate flag behind the cab. That article is just about done and should be out by 7 or so.

However, the most popular post last week — and I suspect again in the week to come — is from last August: “Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party“. The shooting made it topical again, and has given it another 18K hits so far. It was still picking up momentum yesterday.

The weekly summary covers the bizarre conservative reactions to the Charleston massacre, and then discusses (a little; more next week) the Pope’s climate encyclical, the entry of still more presidential candidates into the race, and Rachel Dolezal (whose story I punted on last week), before closing with the kind of non-disturbing video we need about now: two bear cubs playing together. Expect the summary between 10 and 11.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s time to get back to 2016 stump speeches. And yes, I know Hillary just did her first one, but I’m way behind. I’ll get to her soon. This week it’s Rick Santorum’s turn. For 2016 he’s re-branding himself as a protector of the native-born white male Christian American worker.

It seems like there’s an unusual amount to cover in the weekly summary: The House has at least temporarily blocked the TPP trade deal. A commitment of more troops to “advise” and “train” Iraqi troops fighting ISIS got lots people (i.e., me) worried about creeping into a new Iraq War. There was all the reaction to that Texas pool party. And some other stuff worth raising to your attention from John Oliver and Jay Rosen. Plus: some disturbing trends in red-state higher education. And an amazing weather photo to close on.

Figure the Santorum article to appear between 9 and 10, and the weekly summary between 11 and noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I ignored the buzz surrounding Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner back in April. It wasn’t a well-thought-out decision, I just didn’t have much I wanted to say.

Then this week, when social media was dominated by Jenner’s re-emergence as Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair, I realized the reaction against Jenner gave me a news hook on which to hang some thoughts I’ve been mulling about the mindset of social conservatism. That turned into “What’s So Scary About Caitlyn Jenner?”, which still needs a lot of polishing, but will be out sometime this morning.

The weekly summary will discuss the changes in the Patriot Act, more on the Duggars, the bizarre turn in the Christian persecution complex as the Supremes get ready to rule on marriage equality, why a hopeless presidential campaign can be a good career move (if you’re a Republican), and two dueling videos about the food industry. That post also still needs a lot of work, so I’m not predicting when it will appear.

The Monday Morning Teaser

In addition to teaching the Constitution and the structure of our government, Civics classes ought to teach everybody the basic logical fallacies: ad hominem, straw man, slippery slope, and so on. Because if there’s one thing all citizens ought to know, it’s how to recognize the ways in which hucksters will try to sway their decisions.

This week’s featured post is such a lesson: “Rich Lowry’s False Choice”. Wednesday, Politico had the poor judgment to publish Lowry’s column “#SomeBlackLivesDontMatter“. The black lives that supposedly don’t matter (to the people carrying the “Black Lives Matter” signs) are the victims of black-on-black crime. Because the more police are limited, the more black-on-black victims there will be.

The fallacy — which Lowry presents very artfully, I have to admit — is called “false dilemma“. The choice Lowry offers black communities in places like Baltimore and Ferguson is: continued racist policing or no policing at all. The option of police who enforce the law fairly and don’t abuse their authority has somehow vanished.

The weekly summary will discuss the shot-out-of-the-blue Dennis Hastert scandal, which finally completes the story of Bill Clinton’s impeachment: Literally everybody who went after Clinton was doing the same or worse. Also, Texans are suddenly OK with big government, at least until their disaster-relief checks clear. After intentionally ignoring the Josh Duggar story last week, the steady barrage of links on my Facebook news feed finally wore me down; I’ll pass on what I learned after I filtered the vitriol out of the discussion. And I got to watch the local Fox station make mischief in my back yard, creating a “reverse racism” scandal out of a pretty good piece of student video.

But far and away the most fun thing I got to do this week was go to two talks: I saw Bernie Sanders in Portsmouth Wednesday and Bill McKibben at my church on Sunday. Since I just covered Sanders last week, I won’t go into detail about his message; I’ll focus instead on the crowd enthusiasm and what I think it means. McKibben’s talk might deserve a more detailed discussion in a future week, but today I’ll pass on the gist.

Oh, and there’s a closing: I bet you never wondered who teaches puppies how to act like puppies. New video reveals the answer.

The Lowry article should go up shortly. The weekly summary will take a bit longer.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week my 2016 Speech series covers its first Democrat: Bernie Sanders. As you can probably predict, I like what Bernie is saying. But liberals like me still have questions to consider: Is his candidacy just a little too quixotic? And if Hillary is going to be the nominee anyway — and if nobody remotely reasonable is going to win the Republican nomination — should we already be worrying about the fall campaign instead? Or is it important that somebody plant the progressive flag, whether he wins or not?

A second featured article arose when a section of the weekly summary got out of hand. An explanation of Michael Newdow’s new strategy to use the RFRA in getting “In God we trust” off our money became a more general “Turning the Theocracy Against Itself”.

The weekly summary has a lot of parts that nearly turned into articles: the Irish marriage equality referendum, the Santa Barbara oil spill (which is partly my fault), the political fault line between big business and small business, and the bizarre opinions of the woman who is now Israel’s top diplomat. Since the weekly word limit was already blown away, I figured I might as well have a double closing: a great cartoon about the power of unions, and Coldplay’s attempt to turn Game of Thrones into a musical.

The theocracy article should post shortly, and the Sanders article around ten or so (EDT). Expect the weekly summary before noon.


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